Q: Are sports OK, or are they wrong for a Christian?
Suggested Daily Reading: II Timothy 4:1-8
A: It is not possible to answer every detail about when participation in sports would move from legitimate to illegitimate and exactly where every Christian must draw the line. The following, however, are four guiding scriptural principles that will help you determine right from the wrong:
- Idolization – Sports that idolize players, draw large crowds, charge high admission fees, pay unrealistically high salaries reveal that they are rooted in human idolization. They are fruits produced by the idolization of sports in today’s world.
- Motive – Moderate participation in sports for individual physical fitness and participation in group activity is different from involvement motivated by a desire to be watched, cheered and honored.
- Time – Moderate time to maintain physical health is different from considerable time spent to perfect skills or to immerse oneself in emotional attachment to sport teams and players.
- Concern – Involvement at a low level of concern, e.g. for exercise or to have fun as a family or with a group, is different from becoming absorbed in sports, e.g. placing a high priority on how a sports team is doing, if they are winning or losing, or how a particular sports player is performing, or spending considerable time watching sports.
How do the following demonstrate the idolatry of professional sports in our culture today?
- Tens of thousands gathering for a major league baseball game Sunday afternoon, while only a couple hundred meet a few blocks away to worship God in a large church building with many empty pews
- News announcers spending more time on sports than on issues that would promote the spiritual, emotional and mental health of their listeners
- More interest and excitement shown over someone hitting a puck into a net than the country’s leader’s speech
- A ball player making a higher salary than an accomplished brain surgeon or the president/prime minister of the country
- Students waiting in long lines to see a sports player walk past at an airport, but not even interested in meeting a Supreme Court judge
Have sports become an idol in your life? If so, what needs to happen? How can you break down this idol within you?